When Jannah Tucker, a women’s basketball signee at the University of Tennessee, failed to show up in July for summer classes ahead of her freshman year, the school announced the Randallstown, Md., product had “chosen not to enroll due to personal reasons.”
Nearly three months later, those personal reasons came into sobering focus, when Tucker, 18, released a statement Friday calling herself a victim of domestic violence.
“There were many instances of physical abuse this past summer, with the last occurring on Tuesday, September 24, 2013,” her statement said. “I was badly beaten and had several injuries. However, I was never in critical condition nor was I admitted to the hospital.”
On Sept. 25, Baltimore County police arrested Joshua Anthony Gerard, a 19-year-old from Owings Mills, and charged him with second-degree assault. Gerard, like Tucker a former basketball standout from New Town High School, remained in custody overnight and posted a $50,000 bond the following day. A trial date has been set for Feb. 10, 2014.
Tucker was granted a protective order against Gerard, and an uncle, Michael J. Tucker, also received a temporary protective order, according to court documents, claiming threats Gerard made against him and his family. Messages left with several members of the Tucker family were not returned Friday. Tucker’s mother, Cynthia, is an administrator in the president’s office at the University of Maryland.
“The reason I’ve been silent is because this experience has been deeply troubling and a very personal issue for not only myself, but my family as well,” Tucker said in her statement, released through Blue Star Basketball, an amateur talent-evaluation and college showcase organization. “. . . I am not speaking out of spite or looking for revenge. My interest is to help others recognize and prevent domestic violence.”
According to the police report and court documents, police were called to the Owings Mills home shared by Tucker and Gerard on the afternoon of Sept. 25 after Tucker’s mother reported a “domestic abuse issue,” stemming from text messages she had received from Tucker saying Gerard had hit her. Tucker’s mother also told police Gerard prevented Tucker from leaving the house to meet with her. Jannah Tucker also texted her mother a picture of a “severely bruised left eye,” according to the report.
Both Tucker and Gerard told police at the scene that they had been “playing” or “wrestling” and that Gerard had hit her in the eye with his elbow, but the officers arrested Gerard after noting bruises and red marks on Tucker’s face. According to the report, Tucker and Gerard had been dating for two years and living together for three months.
Tennessee women’s basketball Coach Holly Warlick declined to comment Friday. Earlier this week she tweeted, “No female deserves domestic violence. NO ONE. We will continue to pray for JT. She is a great BB player but an even better person. #heal”
Despite suffering a knee injury that forced her to sit out her senior season, Tucker, a 6-foot guard-forward, was rated the No. 8 prospect in the country by ESPN and had been recruited heavily by programs across the country, including Maryland.
“Jannah is every coach’s dream,” said Goucher College assistant coach Chris Burley, who coached Tucker her freshman year at Western High, before she transferred to New Town. “She comes from a very good, very religious family. She’s a natural-born leader, just a great kid on and off the court.”
Julie Tate contributed to this report.